Valerie Herrman says she remembers the day her son, 11-year-old Adam, ran away and the last words she spoke to him.
“When he said he wasn't coming back I told him good. I was upset...and we say mean things when we get mad, things you don't mean,” Valerie told us outside of her home in Grove, Oklahoma where she now lives.
Doug and Valerie Herrman admit to not reporting their son missing while cashing state checks in his name. They both served time for fraud, but investigators have not charged them with a crime for Adam’s disappearance.
Valerie says 11 year old Adam simply ran away that day in 1999. Fearing they would lose her other kids, the Herrmans never called police.
“When I think back how terrible that was...at the time all I could think about was losing our three kids.”
Valerie tells FactFinder 12 she and her husband looked for Adam for the next few days, but never found him.
Valerie did admit to us that discipline likely went too far with Adam as they used a belt to spank him and did lock him a bathroom.
“Yes I left bruises on his legs. I didn't starve him or chain him up like people talked about.”
She says Adam had behavior problems and had threatened to kill family members. She says a child behavior expert told them to lock him in the bathroom.
She says she also regrets not telling any other friends or family about his disappearance.
Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet says he doesn’t believe Valerie’s version of events.
‘No. He didn't run out that door and not come back,” says Herzet.
Doug Herrman died in 2016. Sheriff Herzet believes on person knows where Adam is.
“I believe Valerie Herrman has more to tell and she's not talking at this point.”
He says she has said very little to investigators and got an attorney as soon as it was discovered Adam was missing.
Valerie tells us she would be willing to meet with detectives, but a meeting has not happened. She says investigators canceled interviews with her early on. Sheriff Herzet says that’s not true.
“We would go to Grove, OK and meet with her and she can have attorney. I don't have an issue with that. I want closure and we want to find the remains of Adam. I think she has the answers we need.
Valerie tells us she holds onto hope Adam is still alive and hopes he sees the story.
“I want him to call and let us know if he's alright. Just a phone call is all I’m asking to let me know where he's at,” says Valerie.
Investigators are working on a new age progression photo of Adam who would turn 31 this summer. They are also installing a billboard on Kellogg near Andover with information.